Let me start with some definitions: By “up,” I’m talking about increasing responsibilities and earning power—either within the same organization or at a different organization. By “on,” I mean some millennials become continual job vagabonds looking for a good fit somewhere “out there.”
To be in the first category of millennial movers and shakers, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Become an expert at something. To win the attention of peers, outsiders, customers, and higher-ups, you can’t be an “also ran.” You stand out being the “first one to change how …,” “the only one who has developed a process to …,” “the best person to….” Stake your claim. Claim your content or frontier and master it.
- Build a network of real resources beyond the 3,727 social media friends you can access. When business problems come up, you’re going to need to know the experts to call with questions, what vendors can give you the prices and the best customer service, and which managers and customers to trust for the referrals you can depend on in a crunch.
- Learn to write well. Not essays. Not casual emails or text messages. Learn to write clear, concise, well organized emails, reports, briefings, and proposals that people can grasp quickly. Your writing reflects how well you think.
- Learn to give an executive briefing. Yes, I know you won’t be briefing CEOs and SVPs at the outset of your career, but the faster you learn to organize a decision-maker’s presentation and deliver it well, the faster you will move up the food chain. Outstanding public speaking skills are critical to your success.
- Ask for and accept feedback, but don’t obsess when it doesn’t come your way. Others in the workplace aren’t continually focused on you, your job, and your future. Use the advice you can get. Disregard what doesn’t apply toward your goals.
- Understand that your integrity is on the line every day. One wrong decision or action and you may never regain your reputation within the organization or industry.
- Develop enough personal presence to get along with people of all ages, all socio-economic levels, and all cultures. Organizational titles have less and less meaning today. Your overall success will depend largely on your ability to win cooperation from people who do not report to you and do not “have to” do what you ask.
Millennials who do not master the above skills and traits soon find that they are “unhappy,” “frustrated,” and “being ignored” where they work. So they make a lateral move to the next organization. And then the next. That is, until they learn it’s not the job but the mover that’s the matter.